President of Eko International Film Festival Tackles Nollywood starPaul Obazele over Trademark Theft

By Michael Chima Ekenyerengozi

The trademark theft of the brand Eko International Film Festival (EKOIFF) is now being duly addressed by the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It will be recalled, that Eko International Film Festival and the duplication “Amp-Eko International Film Festival” has been in the news for over one year now.

The President of Eko international Film Festival, Hope Opara sent a petition to Ministry of Commerce and Industry over the infringement of the trade mark by Paul Obazele's Royal Pictures registering a trade mark that is of close resemblance i.e. “Amp-Eko International Film Festival”.

The ministry summoned the two parties on the 15thof November 2010, for a presentation and hearing and 21st of November was set for a ruling to strike out “Amp-Eko International Film Festival” or allow it to run in line with Eko International Film Festival.

The ministry has established that Hope Opara's Supple Communications Limited first registered Eko International Film Festival before Paul Obazele's Royal Pictures Limited's “Amp –Eko International Film Festival” which was an addition of an acronym (AMP) to the original registration of the film festival. Looking at the two registrations, it is crystal clear that; it is an infringement. Can you have “Abuja international film festival “and “Amp-Abuja international film festival”. Obviously every dummy should know that the brands are too close to be permitted legally because of the close resemblance.

The ruling billed on the 21st of November, 2010 was disrupted by a mild drama of some security operatives from the State Security Service (SSS) and claimed that the PRESIDENCY is interested in the matter. They confronted the registrar Mrs. Jamila K. Ahmadu Saku and asked why the multiple registration in her ministry and she made it clear to them that they don't do multiple registration but if any mistake was made on matters like this, they usually invite the two parties involved and after hearing they will rule on the matter. The issue at hand is being handled accordingly. Besides, each arm of the Federal Government has code of conduct establishing it, so the SSS have theirs and commerce and industry as well.

When we have such duplication that their functions overlap each other, the rule of the first person that registered (first in time) will suffice. When they left, Mrs. Suka and her team addressed the two parties and were asked to go and wait for the next invitation likely to be by the end of January, 2011.

The President of Eko International Film Festival, Mr. Hope Opara on the whole issue, said that he is skeptical about the purported visit of the SSS, saying that the Presidency is interested on the matter sounds childish and arranged. This is a clear cut trade mark infringement and the rule of first in time must apply. How on earth will the Presidency condescend so low to get involved in an issue that is not within their purview when the ministry has been delegated to handle trademarks, patents & designs. Or was the visit intended to obstruct justice. I think someone is trying to play smart with this visit and the head of the State Security Service must hear this and if he actually sent some of boys to the ministry, let us know and the issue of the Presidency being interested in this matter must be established.

One thing I am sure is that the ministry understands the ethics guiding their functions and operations which I know that any kind of duplication of Eko International Film Festival will be unacceptable.